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Heathrow expansion challenge | Calls for alternative airport proposals

Heathrow expansion

A trio of politicians is leading the charge against the proposed third runway at Heathrow. 

They have called for other airports to be expanded as an alternative to the Heathrow proposal.

Speaking to New Civil Engineer outside the High Court in London, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith and Liberal Democrat Baroness Kramer called for alternative airport expansions to Heathrow. 

McDonnell and Goldsmith favour expansion of regional airports and Gatwick. Kramer wants Birmigham airport to be expanded.

A two-week hearing at the Royal Court of Justice beings listening to five legal challenges from local councils, environmentalists and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. They are seeking a judicial review of Parliament’s decision to give Heathrow expansion the green light

McDonnell told New Civil Engineer that “people want to fly point to point rather than have to come through one major hub”.

He added: “There is a strong argument both on economic and environmental grounds that the way forward is for the expansion of regional airports rather than Heathrow.

“My view is that Heathrow is the last place that you would want to expand an airport at the moment, so other airports vying for potential expansion, regional airports or Gatwick, clearly come before Heathrow,” the shadow chancellor said.

Former London Mayor candidate and Conservative MP Goldsmith backed expansion of alternative London airports including Gatwick and Stansted.  

“If you need to expand, my view is that you expand in a way that increases competition in the sector rather than re-creating the old monopoly that was broken up for a good reason, and that for me means [expanding] something like Gatwick or Stansted, but not Heathrow,” he told New Civil Engineer.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has also already expressed support for expanding Gatwick instead of Heathrow on the grounds that it could boost the UK economy without causing air pollution problems and would be not just cheaper but also quicker to expand.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Baroness Susan Kramer added: “I think there are other airports where you could look [at expansion].

“I personally think that Birmingham is most ideal. Birmingham wants it and there is not local opposition to it because of the way it can be designed to have minimal impact on people. And we are going to get HS2 which means it [will be] 38 minutes from the terminal at Birmingham Airport into Euston.

“If you start thinking more broadly about the whole way that modern transport is being put together, the need to put a third runway in the middle of the most crowded intensely populated part of the country suddenly does not make a whole lot of sense.”

The full hearing on Heathrow expansion began yesterday after High Court judge Justice Holgate ruled that a judicial review would hear all the legal challenges simultaneously in a preliminary hearing in October.

The legal challenges were mounted after the House of Commons voted in favour of building the runway at the airport, approving transport secretary Chris Grayling National Policy Statement by 415 votes to 119, in June.

Under Heathrow’s current plan construction will begin in 2021.

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